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Harris, James Austin (1825-1912)


Posted By: Carl Malone (email)
Date: 6/18/2017 at 16:54:29

The Atlantic News Telegraph
Atlantic, Iowa
February 20, 1912



Father of Wilson Harris and It Was at His Home That the Suicide Occurred.

Mentally unbalanced because of a cancer which had started to grow again after he had once had it removed, James A. Harris, aged 86 years, father of Wilson Harris, of Harrisdale, on the A. N. & S., north of the city, shot himself about two o’clock this afternoon and when found in the yard was cold and stiff in death. The aged man was undoubtedly mentally unsound, the result of worrying over the trouble he was having with the cancer and brooded until he resolved to end his life. He appeared about the same as usual today and it was a decided shock when the relatives discovered his rash act.

Coroner Nels Jensen was notified of the suicide but did not go to the place as the cause of death was plain. The deceased leaves his one son and a number of nephews and nieces. His wife died a number of years ago. The son is Wilson Harris, at whose place the tragedy occurred. He was an old resident of the county and well known.

At the time of writing this the particulars were very meagre [meager] and of course no arrangements for the funeral had been made. The relatives were not able this afternoon to give many facts about the shooting except to state that the aged man had killed himself and to say that he was mentally unbalanced at the time.

Deceased was a well respected old man and the many who knew him in the city will regret to learn of his death in this manner.

The Atlantic News Telegraph
Atlantic, Iowa
February 21, 1912



Evident That Old Gentleman Accidentally Shot Self With Shot Gun While on Way to Shoot Sparrows.

It is evident, in view of further facts which have come to light in regard to the matter, that the shooting of James A. Harris, whose sudden death at the home of his son, north of town, was told of in this paper yesterday, was not the result of suicide but was accidental. The facts of the shooting were that the old gentleman was on the way from the yard thru the barn yard to shoot some sparrows, a thing he had done several times of late. He had left his shot gun leaning against the fence in the yard. He took up the gun and started through the gate into the barn yard with the gun in his hand. He appeared to slip on the ice and in falling the gun seemed to be thrown up and strike him above the right eye and was discharged. He received the whole charge, the top of his head being blown off. A grandson, son of Wilson Harris, at whose place the shooting occurred, watched the accident from the barn and while the first report given by the people at the place was to the effect that the old gentleman had killed himself purposely, it now looks as if there could be little question but that it was accidental. It surely looks as if, had the old gentleman wanted to commit suicide, he would not have gone into the barn yard in plain sight of anyone who happened to be near, to do it. The definite facts, of course, can never be known, as no one can tell what the dead man’s thoughts were, but there is strong evidence that the suicide theory was wrong and that the old gentleman was killed accidentally.

Was Born in Virginia.

Mr. Harris was born in Campbell county, Virginia, December 30th, 1925, and was the last of a family of thirteen children, ten boys and three girls. He removed to Ohio in 1834 with his parents and from there in 1836 to Randolph county, Indiana. He was married in 1853 to Elizabeth A. Lamb, and to this union there was born one child, Wilson L. Harris, with whom he lived at the time of his death. His wife died February 17th, 1854, in Randolph county, Ind. He was married again to Lydia Johnson October 31st, 1856, and the same year they moved to this county, where they lived till November 28th, 1908, when Mrs. Harris died. About 1857 Mr. Harris was converted to the Christian religion and joined the M. E. church. There survive him one son, Wilson Harris, three grand children and two great grandchildren, one sister-in-law, Sarah A. Harris, and twenty-nine nephews and nieces.

Funeral Tomorrow.

The funeral services will be held at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon at the Church of Christ in this city, the Rev. E. E. Mack officiating, and the interment will be made in the Atlantic cemetery. The cortege will leave the home north of town at twelve o’clock. It is requested that all who desire to view the remains do so at the home before noon tomorrow as the casket will not be opened at the church.

NOTE FROM CONTRIBUTOR: James Harris was born December 30, 1825 and died February 20, 1912


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